April 11, 2007

1st Secretary of Everything Else

3 Generals Spurn the Position of War 'Czar' is an interesting article and reminds me of something I read in early-mid 2000. The Republican nominee George W Bush was having just as much trouble, perhaps even more than today in filling a slot but that time it was looking for a running mate that was tripping him up. He'd picked a trusted Washington figure to lead the search, Dick Cheney. Eventually he picked Cheney for running mate. I wonder if he might not do it again.

One of the problems of Tom Barnett's "Department of Everything Else" (DoEE) is that it takes an episodic problem that has a sure end date (the day that the Gap disappears and we've all "made it" into the Core) and builds a permanent bureaucracy around the task. It took us better than 100 years to dismantle an "emergency" tax originally levied to fund the Spanish American war and we're to believe that a DoEE will go quietly into that good night? Men are men and not angels. It's hard to believe that those people building their ccareers at DoEE will go elsewhere any more readily than those maintaining our strategic stockpiles of helium (for our nonexistant military dirigible fleet) and mohair (in case we ever decide to start making uniforms out of the stuff again). A Democrat might have less trouble with that objection but Bush is still Republican enough that it's got to bug him on some level.

It is thus much more likely that the 1st Secretary of Everything Else will already have a chair at cabinet meetings, will already have a power base, and will thus not have to get confirmed or set up that permanent power base. So why not Cheney?

Cheney has a powerbase. Cheney's powerbase transcends departments. The precedent for the DoEE would become someone who was elected by the people and that's important because the DoEE is dangerous.

Fundamentally the DoEE is a government in waiting. when there is a breakdown in governance sufficient to form a Gap, the DoEE will come in and build up institutions, essentially serve as a stopgap government, a sort of cellular scaffold for government until Gap conditions recede and regular governance can resume. The DoEE would be chartered to function only outside the US, just like the US military but it doesn't take a genius to see how posse comitatus is breaking down and how a DoEE might subvert democratic governance in a future administration.

But a Vice President already transcends the stovepipe authorities of the cabinet secretaries. You wouldn't be creating anything novel there. Why not pick Cheney and make the DoEE a vice presidential function? Why not indeed.

HT: Tom Barnett

Posted by TMLutas at April 11, 2007 11:47 AM